As suspected COVID spread continues in North Korea WHO frets over missing data

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North Korea reported hundreds of thousands of new infections on Wednesday, but said that a million residents have already recovered from what is suspected to be COVID-19. 

The nation announced 232,880 new cases of fever and an additional six deaths, with at least 691,170 remaining in quarantine. 

While outside experts believe most of the fevers – 232,880 fever cases were announced on Wednesday – are from the coronavirus, North Korea lacks the testing capability to confirm all of them. 

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The outbreak is also almost certainly larger than has been counted, because some people could be asymptomatic. 

While it remains uncertain how many cases were confirmed as COVID-19-related, it is also unclear how more than a million people recovered so quickly. 

This announcement comes just a week after acknowledging an outbreak, and imposing nationwide lockdowns.

North Korea’s population of 26 million are believed to be unvaccinated against the coronavirus, although South Korean officials said last week that they would offer to send vaccines and other emergency medical supplies to their northern neighbor. China has also offered to provide aid. 

North Korea has made no indication of whether they plan to accept the offer and have previously denied millions of doses of vaccine shots offered by the United Nations-backed COVAX distribution program

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South Korea’s government said it could not confirm media reports that North Korea flew planes to bring back medical equipment from China on Tuesday.

Earlier this week, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un criticized officials for their response to the health crisis. 

He said there was a failure to deliver medicine supplies to pharmacies on time because of their “irresponsible” work attitude and lackluster organization, according to the North’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

The ruling party, Politburo, had sent an emergency order to immediately distribute state medicine supplies and for pharmacies to remain open for 24 hours a day. 

Kim, however, said these measures were not being implemented properly and KCNA said he ordered his military’s medical units to start stabilizing the medicine supply in Pyongyang.

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) leader said Tuesday that the country has not responded to its request for more information about coronavirus there. 

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“WHO is deeply concerned at the risk of further spread in (North Korea),” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated.

Fox News’ Landon Mion and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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